The Shadow Over the Keep


The various introductions continue in the outer area of the tent and Kip wonders if the furry-eared girl will be as ill at ease with the others as she was with him. After watching, he assumes she was not. Perhaps his faith put her off. In time he would rectify that. Manks had a reputation for pushy clergy, winners, and no a few of them were consummate liars. Kip was none such though and he knew that like it or not, the folks assembled here in this tent would soon be risking their lives together. Hekarin was nowhere to be seen and Kip had hoped to at least catch a glimpse of the burly rogue before he had to go into action yet again. Still, there was a familiar smell in the air. Perhaps the ale-poonder waited within?

Kip, as usual in no rush to meet what fate has appointed him, takes his time outside letting the others pass into the command area. Then he
Kip will stealth in at first using One With Shadow and Shadow Walk as well as using those in previously as cover. Once he gets inside he will drop stealth as if to appear within the applicants.
quietly slides in nodding to the elf on the way.

Kip assesses those present. Stormblade he knows, but what of the others within the room? Seeing a woman and a halfling he guesses not. After waiting through the various assertions of talents, Kip speaks up suddenly stepping into clear view, "Kip Pickens, not-so-humble priest of Manks! ... Rogue! ... Warlock! Son of none! Betrayer of Sergeants! I stand ready to serve!" Anyone who saw this eerie fellow outside is suddenly taken aback by the warm smile he now has threatening to break out across his face. The fairy at his shoulder looks back and forth between the Captain and her companion hurriedly trying not to miss the nuances. The priest's eyes remain fixed in that reptilian way on the Captain, although the mirth there is apparent. A silence hangs in the air for a second ...

Stormblade looked at Kip for a few moments before crossing off his name. She seemed to want to ask something but she decided against it. "DuFresne, how many did you say you wanted?" She asked, not looking at the one she spoke to. "Six. Same amount of mercs we've got here right now." she smiled.

The orc woman stood up at her desk. "Well someone has to do it. All of you stay where you are." she said to the six of you. "Specialist Vega, answer me, have you experience with leading a team through combat?"

Originally Posted by Keradi01 View Post
Specialist Vega, answer me, have you experience with leading a team through combat?"
Carl snaps to attention as the woman rises and adresses him.

"Ma'am, No Ma'am. I have encyclopedic theoretical knowledge of the application of force against a target or targets. During training I participated in a number of scenarios and situations but no practice in the field Ma'am."

"That's fine and all but let's see how you do under real stress." The woman turned her head to look towards the robed halfling. "Jacib, fetch our best healers. Just in case." The halfling had a look of shock come over him as she said so. "Y-you don't intend to... Oh dear." He rushed out of the tent without saying another word.

"I want you lot to follow me. All of you!" she commanded in an authoritative tone. She left the tent with all of you following, though feelings are mixed between you all. The woman in red followed as well.

You all reach a small dirt field where dozens of soldiers had been training, though when noticing Stormblade's approach they all ceased and stared at the captain. Turning towards you guys, Stormblade flatly said, "My first order to you mercenaries, and Specialist Vega, is to fight me." "Captain, is that a good idea? I doubt they could best a street thug, let alone you." the woman in red chuckled.

The soldiers who were standing around nervously moved way from your group and Stormblade, forming a rough circle around you all. "Well how about it? Let's see if you lot can actually fight."

Selena observes the captain calmly. On one hand, she has no interest in doing unnecessary battles. On the other, it appeared this woman was not going to let them proceed unless they proved to her that they had some experience. Time was of the essence now; she did not want to waste any of it arguing with the captain about being prepared for the mission. It would be easier to show. Having healers nearby meant that she could attack without fear of causing lasting damage. Even if they were not there, Selena has the feeling that the captain would be able to take anything she could do with relative ease. More likely than not the healers were meant for them rather than her.

Whatever the case might be, Selena brings her javelin to in front of her. "Very well."

Leonard had wanted to say something, when the commanding officer had called him out on his lack of experience, but what could he say? Everything he thought up, were just excuses. She was right, and nothing could change that fact. He thought about just reassuring of his skills, just say something, anything to show at least that he had confidence in his skills, but apparently, that was the limit of his confidence. He couldn't bring himself to speak up. He just fell silent.

He noticed the others speak up when the Orc chastised him. He secretly wished to be strong like they were, especially that dwarf who seemed actually chastise her instead. The specialist, was like he was, without experience, but he managed to do exactly what he could not.

Elean frowned at being called a child. It hurt her pride, but she knew her place and kept her mouth shut. For the most part anyway. When the orc and halfling had their little exchange, Elean couldn't help but chime in.

"Big pig, not big..." She said quietly, with her smile returning.

When the group began to move, Leonard quietly followed. He only felt his resolve begin to return to him when he understood what was happening. He turned to his squire, who had a serious look on her face. She nodded and placed the standard into the ground. Then she reached back and took the dynamic broadsword that was slung over her shoulder and held it carefully with both hands. Careful not to let it touch the ground, she knelt down before her knight.

He placed a hand on the noble blade.

"Thank you for keeping my life safe," he said to Eleanor. For those who live and die by the sword, your life was only in as good condition as their sword. As his squire, Eleanor did not just carry the noble weapon, she also cared for and made sure it was in proper working condition or otherwise replaced it if it was unfit for war.

Finally, he took up the blade. He drew it from its sheath, holding up the brilliant broad blade and inspecting it. Though he was sure she had kept it in pristine condition, he liked to take time to admire its brilliance. This weapon was fit for war.

He let Eleanor have the sheath back, and she slung it across her shoulder once again. Then, she reached for the massive slab of steel on her back. Without so much a grimace at its weight, she took it from where it was stowed and stood up from the ground. Leo reached out his left arm, and Eleanor moved to place the shield on his arm. He gripped its handle tightly as it came into reach.

The whole ceremony took only a few seconds, but it was an important one. Eleanor smiled up at him, but then something seemed to disturb her. She then took a step closer, standing on the tips of her toes she reached up with both hands. She adjusted Leonard's helm, though it was probably unnecessary. When she was satisfied, she stepped away and smiled once more. She looked up to the steel coated man, who wore a look of determination on his face underneath the metal visor of his helm.

"Now you look perfect..." she said blushing slightly. Though she often teased him, and even defied from time to time that would otherwise be unheard of from a squire to their knight, when he looked like he did now, she had nothing but the up most respect for him.

Sadly, Leonard was so focused on the seriousness of the upcoming challenge, that the rare compliment hardly registered in his psyche. He simply nodded, and turned towards the group.

"I'll take point," he announced plainly as he strode right up to the Orc champion. He stared directly towards here eyes.

Eleanor fell back to watch with the other soldiers in the circle, but left the Standard standing in the ground by the group.

Kip was a bit taken aback by the summary response the Captain gave him. Given their history, the Captain must have some very grave matters at hand to forgo any attempt at levity or even just a chance to break from formality, normally a cherished opportunity in such settings. Kip had been ready to bear her jokes and jibes in good spirits, planning to give as good as he got. But no. She was dead serious. Worried. Even angry.

The priest fell into line with all the others as they walked out of the tent and hurriedly stepped down the short earthen ramp into the sparring grounds. Six vs one? Really? This struck Kip as reckless. But he thought he understood. Whatever it was that was kept in Ridgar Keep was a danger so profound that the good Captain refused to send in anything less than steely-eyed veterans. More and more cause for concern.

Ihlver’s Bluff had been a hell of a fight, even without the hammer. The anvil had been tough enough and the army of the Gryphon had only barely edged out its foes. Rhegby sent several teams into the field untried, despite the experienced sergeant’s warnings. Untried groups could and in that case did easily fall prey to individualism. Every look on the Captain’s face right now told of how this was going to be an all-in proposition. No safe bets. If the players weren't supporting each other with every move, every action, there would be hell to pay.

Kip had seen it before in the same army, and since among warriors of his own faith, as well as mercenaries. No time except this to rehearse as a team. One shot to glue up into a real fighting unit. Fool-hearty individual tactics, often as not, got everyone but the jackass that did them killed or badly wounded. Fate was kind to fools and rude twice over to those that were prudent.

Kip reflected on his assessment, however brief of his companions-to-be. On the surface it seemed grim indeed. The exact opposite of what might be thought desirable. An ivory tower logic-worshipper in Vega, an overly sensitive spear-chucker in Selene, a reluctant softie with an old soul in Leonard, and a pair of competitors for jackass of the year in the eladrin and the dwarf. But that odd mix was just the kind of group that magically exceeded all expectations and rose from the pit of adversity into a cohesive fighting unit. It could happen … Of course, hope springs eternal …

The priest shook his head as the pregnant silence lingered on. He began to stretch obviously, making it apparent he would not proceed with combat until ready, taking the blame as it were. Everyone seemed tentative, the exception, Leonard, was just acting a part, at least so far. Kip hoped the fellow would take point. But could he or would he run if needed in that armor? And could he keep pace with the athlete that was Captain Stormblade? A brief run through his warm-ups and Kip slid down a few steps to one side and slightly behind Leonard. He thought to himself … Back in gear man! Back in the game! How will she do it?

She was going to take out the front as fast and furiously as she could and beeline the casters and ranged types. The hardest thing was going to be connecting, getting a solid hit on such a well trained foe. Kip offered his only advice to the team, “Anything and everything just to hit. Nothing fancy. Definite damage, and help each other hit, anything anyone has for accuracy, let’s see it! Add it up, bit by bit. Melee types maneuver for advantage, yours and everyone else’s. Think! Maximum range and do not bunch if your ranged." And then, befitting a priest, a prayer to the heavens, "Manks, grant us Victory!”

Carl walks directly behind the captain with military precision. When they get to the practice field he takes the stock of his crossbow in one hand. With the other he undoes the top and only button of his long coat. It opens to reveal two crossed bandoliers, filled with vials and gizmos. Beneath the bandoliers is a tight leather vest.

"Allow me to inspect your weapons. I will impart certain energies to them." He walks around to each member of the unlikely team, inspecting their weapons without another word. In fact, he seems to assume that he may handle the weapons without asking anything. When he comes to Percival he holds the sword for much longer. "You have declared that you will take point. I am augmenting your weapon to increase your accuracy. This is a one time enchantement. To use the power you must simply decide to in your mind and the enchantment will react." He traces a sigil onto the base of the blade. It glows blue as the line leaves his finger.

Finally is finished with everyone. He adjusts his gear, tightening several buckles and securing the coat tails out of the way. He cocks his crossbow and loads a quarrel. Lightning crackles down his arm and runs rampant over the metal cyclinder slung under the crossbow barrel.

"I believe we are ready captain." He brings the bow up and holds a steady aim on the Orc.

Leonard never lets go of his sword, but allows Carl to also hold onto it. He looks to his blade after Carl is finished, to see how the faint runes glowing upon it, waiting to be activated.

"Interesting... guess I should make it count..." He decides to change tactics for just a bit. If he's going to be chosen to have this bonus, he should try to make the best of it. He prepared himself for a moment, then looked up to the sky and let out a strange whistle.

The whistle seemed to come from his throat, and yet from everywhere at once. It was a whistle in 'deep speech'. The odd echoing tone to carry with it a bit of the spiritual energies, of which he was a conduit of. Not a moment later, a few flashes of light and sparks of lightning crackled in an empty space adjacent to him. It was accompanied what sounded like thunder at first, but as it went on it slowly began to sound more like the sound of hooves racing against the ground. Suddenly, a large flash of light gives way to a large steed of cosmic appearance, the one who had pulled his carriage here.

It raced out of the flashes of light with a loud cry that echoed to sound like it was coming from all around, just like Leo's whistle. It came about and moved directly to Leonard, where it slowed to a stop. Leonard mounted the majestic beast, and raised up his sword.

He then raised up his Dynamic Broadsword calling upon it to heed his will. The metal became malleable, and then began to wax and wane. He raised it up to the heavens, and it reached out up towards the sky growing more than twice its original length and its blade becoming thick like a cone. It had shifted its form to that of a proper lance. Before it finished, it shaped various ornate, dynamic details to accent itself. Since it was still technically the same weapon, just having changed its form, Leonard assumed that the enchantment Carl had placed on it would still be effective. He pulled it close to inspect that the runes were indeed still there, but now they were along the might steel shaft of a lance.

The knight, carried by the celestial steed moved to make sure they had enough room to reach charging speed before they began. He adjusted the lance in hand and prepared to do battle.

Dice Roll: 1d20+4
d20 Results: 5 (Total = 9)

"Oh look at that captain. It seems these guys are pulling out any tricks they can even before the fight starts." DuFresne commented as she flicked away her finished cigarette though she pulled out another one right afterwards and lit it with a match. "This is a test of what they are capable of, let's just see what they can do." Stormblade answered in a serious and low tone as she began to stretch out her body a bit. "Still, isn't it a little too much to use a horse?" DuFresne asked, though no concern could be found in her voice.

As the preparations are going on, the halfling, Jacib, returned with several men and women wearing distinctive white robes. "I've brought our best healers captain." He called out, though he and the healers didn't dare go too close. The captain just nodded in answer.


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